The Intern Written Exam (IWE) tests your skills, experience, knowledge and understanding as a pharmacy intern.

The IWE is one component of the general registration exam. You are required to pass the IWE to show that you have the competence to practise safely and effectively in the Australian healthcare setting.

The Intern Oral Exam, delivered by the Pharmacy Board of Australia, is another component of the general registration exam.

Before applying for general registration as a pharmacist you will need to pass both exams and complete other aspects of the internship such as:

  • sign-off by preceptors of your remaining supervised practice
  • completion of your Intern Training Program

Our guide to the IWE outlines the subject areas we assess, and will help you to prepare for the exam.

The Intern Written Exam lets you demonstrate your ability to practise pharmacy safely and effectively by analysing and evaluating practice-based material and problems.

You'll need to assess your own knowledge level, then evaluate that knowledge as much you can against the exam material.

We base our exams on the latest information, which you can find in relevant:

  • journals
  • publications
  • textbooks

It's up to you to find this information. We do not endorse any external reference sources.

We do not restrict the printed or handwritten reference materials you can use in the exam. This means you can bring any printed or handwritten materials you like into the exam room.

The IWE covers 6 content areas, which are based on the National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists in Australia 2016.

You'll need to show you understand, and have suitable skills, experience and knowledge in:


Competency standard

Enabling competency

1 Professionalism and ethics

1.3 Practise within applicable legal framework

  • 1.3.1 Comply with statute law, guidelines, codes and standards
  • 1.3.2 Respond to common law requirements
  • 1.3.3 Respect and protect the individual's rights to privacy and confidentiality

3 Medicines management and patient care

3.1 Develop a patient-centred, culturally responsive approach to education management

  • 3.1.1 Obtain relevant health and medicines information
  • 3.1.2 Assess medication management practices and needs
  • 3.1.3 Collaborate to develop a medication management strategy or plan

3.2 Implement the medication management strategy or plan

  • 3.2.2 Provide primary care and promote judicious use of medicines
  • 3.2.3 Dispense medicines (including compounded medicines) in consultation with the patient and/or prescriber
  • 3.2.5 Provide counselling and information for safe and effective medication management

3.3 Monitor and evaluate medication management

  • 3.3.2 Apply clinical review findings to improve health outcomes

3.4 Compound medicines

  • 3.4.1 Determine the required formulation

3.6 Promote health and well-being

  • 3.6.2 Support health promotion activities and health services intended to maintain and improve health

Pharmacists must comply with a range of:

  • legislative instruments
  • codes
  • guidelines
  • standards

You'll often need to exercise your professional judgement in the workplace. This professional judgment is underpinned by:

  • codes of practice
  • guidelines
  • relevant regulations, such as the Privacy Act.

This means you'll want to familiarise yourself with the following references for the Law and Ethics section.

Indicative element as outlined in the Pharmacy Competency Standards

Possible source or reference


a. Applicable Commonwealth  legislative framework,  Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, Principles of scheduling

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme – Department of Health 

Scheduling basics – Therapeutic Goods Administration 

Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 

National Health Act 1953


b. Code of conduct, policies and guidelines, mandatory  notifications, social media policy, advertising legislation and guidelines

Codes, Guidelines and Policies published by the Pharmacy Board of Australia

Guidelines on Mandatory Notifications – Ahpra

Guidelines for advertising regulated health services – Ahpra

Advertising health services with Schedule 3, Schedule 4 or Schedule 8 medicines – Therapeutic Goods Administration

Advertising to the public. Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code (No. 2). 2018 – Therapeutic Goods Administration


c. The duty of care to the health care consumer and the wider public: concept, scope and application of professional ethics, including gaining informed consent

Australian Charter of Health Care Rights - Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Disability and equal opportunity legislation

Australian Consumer Law

The Privacy Act

Australian Privacy Principles (APPs)

My Health Record – Australian Digital Health Agency




d. Professional standards and guidelines for practice. Self-reflection and reflective practice, self-audit, continuing professional development and maintenance of competency

National Competency Standards Framework for Pharmacists (2016)

Professional practice Standards v5 - Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

Codes, guidelines and policies published by the Pharmacy Board of Australia


We deliver exams across the world in many locations across several time-zones. Sometimes, we hold multiple sessions concurrently. So we take several steps to ensure that the process of exams is fair and equitable for all.

We use different exam versions simultaneously during exam periods. We populate each version with different questions drawn from APC’s database. The APC database contains questions created, reviewed and validated by Australian pharmacists. We create questions based on the National Competency Standards 2016.

The IWE is a pass or fail exam. The pass standard for the exam is set at a level that demonstrates competency. The pass standard also takes into account the performance of candidates in prior sittings. This analysis of results over previous years ensures fairness and equity over a period of time. The level of difficulty remains constant across time.

We maintain the pass standard through regular and ongoing review, assessment and calibration of multiple-choice questions. The use of modern test theory allows us to be confident about the fairness of our papers. It means that all results for candidates are represented on a common scale.

We determine the IWE pass mark by many factors including:

  • the level of difficulty of the questions answered correctly
  • the level of discrimination of the questions answered correctly
  • the proportion of questions answered correctly

Each candidate receives a results certificate indicating the pass/fail outcome.

Australian Intern Written Exam Sample

Download the sample paper (38 pages PDF)

To help you sit the Intern Written Exam, we provide an official sample paper. It contains older questions to help you practise. These questions are no longer used, but they'll help you understand:

  • the types of content covered in the exam
  • how questions might be presented

If you want to practise the sample paper under exam conditions, you will need to answer all 75 questions in 2 hours.

The real exam is delivered online at an approved test centre, or remotely proctored via OnVUE. Our exam provider, Pearson VUE, provides an online tutorial for the IWE.

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